Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
XML PDF e-pub
PDF e-Pub

Section: Research Program

Research direction: developing infrastructure software using Domain Specific Languages

We wish to pursue a declarative approach to developing infrastructure software. Indeed, there exists a significant gap between the high-level objectives of these systems and their implementation in low-level, imperative programming languages. To bridge that gap, we propose an approach based on domain-specific languages (DSLs). By abstracting away boilerplate code, DSLs increase the productivity of systems programmers. By providing a more declarative language, DSLs reduce the complexity of code, thus the likelihood of bugs.

Traditionally, systems are built by accretion of several, independent DSLs. For example, one might use Devil [8] to interact with devices, Bossa [7] to implement the scheduling policies. However, much effort is duplicated in implementing the back-ends of the individual DSLs. Our long term goal is to design a unified framework for developing and composing DSLs, following our work on Filet-o-Fish  [39]. By providing a single conceptual framework, we hope to amortize the development cost of a myriad of DSLs through a principled approach to reusing and composing them.

Beyond the software engineering aspects, a unified platform brings us closer to the implementation of mechanically-verified DSLs. Using the Coq proof assistant as an x86 macro-assembler  [48] is a step in that direction, which belongs to a larger trend of hosting DSLs in dependent type theories [31], [35], [62]. A key benefit of those approaches is to provide – by construction – a formal, mechanized semantics to the DSLs thus developed. This semantics offers a foundation on which to base further verification efforts, whilst allowing interaction with non-verified code. We advocate a methodology based on incremental, piece-wise verification. Whilst building fully-certified systems from the top-down is a worthwhile endeavor [50], we wish to explore a bottom-up approach by which one focuses first and foremost on crucial subsystems and their associated properties.

Our current work on DSLs has two complementary goals: (i) the design of a unified framework for developing and composing DSLs, following our work on Filet-o-Fish, and (ii) the design of domain-specific languages for domains where there is a critical need for code correctness, and corresponding methodologies for proving properties of the run-time behavior of the system.